Lynden Christian never gave in, even though the Lyncs had ever reason to.
Late in the third quarter, King’s seemed to solidify that this was going to be its night. Lynden Christian’s dream of finishing its season with a state championship was going to come up one game short.
The Knights led all night with standout Daylee Hanson turning in a special performance. A King’s layup with 55 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Knights their biggest lead of the game.
But in what seemed to be a passing-of-the-torch moment between LC senior standout Kara Bajema and emerging sophomore star Avery Dykstra, the duo refused to let Lynden Christian’s season end with defeat.
It was most important that we didn’t give up. They were ahead I think pretty much the whole game. Fourth quarter, we jsut didnt let down.
Lynden Christian senior Kara Bajema
Dykstra scored seven of LC’s 15 fourth-quarter points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer and a clutch jumper late, and Bajema had six points and three blocks in the final frame to help guide the Lyncs to a 43-38 Class 1A state championship win over district rival King’s late Saturday night, March 5, at the Yakima Valley SunDome.
“I’m so happy for these girls,” LC coach Brady Bomber said. “We took (King’s) best shot. Daylee Hanson was incredible. We had plenty of moments where we could have folded, but the girls made plays in crucial moments, and that’s what you need to have a chance to win these big games.”
Bajema scored a team-high 14 points with eight rebounds, Dykstra contributed 13 points and Sam Van Loo scored eight points with eight rebounds.
“It means so much,” Bajema said. “There is no better way to end our senior year of basketball. I mean, our basketball careers are over for a lot of us seniors, so it feels great.”
Lynden Christian (25-2) won its second state title in three years but its first with Bomber at the helm.
The Lyncs needed quite the comeback to do it.
LC rallied from down 32-24, venturing on a 11-2 scoring run that ended with a Dykstra go-ahead 3-pointer with 5:30 to play in the fourth quarter.
Following a King’s basket, Dykstra answered again with a jumper to wrestle back the lead at 37-36 with 4:40 to go.
Despite facing a steep deficit, Dykstra said her team never doubted the end result.
“We kind of said, ‘We are not losing this game,’” Dykstra said, “and everything started working again, and we locked in on defense.”
After pair of King’s free throws reducded LC’s lead to 39-38 with 1:23 to play, Dykstra connected from 16 feet out with only a few seconds left on the shot clock to give the Lyncs a 41-38 advantage with 45 seconds to play.
The Knights missed a 3-point attempt on the other end, Bajema hauled in the rebound, was fouled and calmly sealed the game with two pressure free throws.
“We talked in the locker room,” Bomber explained. “We knew it was going to take 32 minutes. We knew there were going to be storms that came, and we took one early in the first half and one late in third quater, and we just told them we have to make the decision to fight.”
Lynden Christian 43, King’s 38
King’s: Maddie Nielsen 4, Kendall Adams 6, Hannah Echelbarger 2, Daylee Hanson 22, Anna Parker 2, Casey Kispert 0, Abbi Echelbarger 2, Audrey Friedline 0
Lynden Christian: Haley Hollander 5, Shaye Brandsma 0, Kara Bajema 14, Sam Van Loo 8, Avery Dykstra 13, Isabela Hernandez 3, Riley Van Hulzen 0, Emmalee Bailey 0.